Eyesore No More - A French Landmark Gets A New Look

Sarah Protzman Howlett

Fix a big mistake. That's what Parisians hoped a project team would accomplish by executing a seven-year, €1 billion project to redevelop and modernize what was once the site of a beloved open-air market in the French capital. Les Halles became an eyesore in the 1970s after a much-maligned demolition of its signature pavilions to make way for an underground shopping mall and transit center. That project fueled decades of resentment—and skepticism that a makeover could heal the architectural scar.

Today the site has been reborn: Capped by a sprawling translucent glass canopy, Les Halles also has a new facade, upgraded rapid-transit station, improved mall access and a new public garden. But the transformation required intense stakeholder management, says Emmanuel de Lanversin, the lead project manager, SemPariSeine, Paris, France.

Eight years of public town hall-style meetings, dueling architectural plans and budget revisions preceded project launch in 2010. Then a massive outreach campaign accompanied the planning and construction phases, with feedback from commuters as well as neighboring residents and businesses—along with a steady stream of demands from the sponsor: the city government.

“We had to put forth trust and transparency all the time,” Mr. de Lanversin says. “Every time you move, you're under scrutiny. Every …

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